One of the reasons the GAA will never be able to compete with cross-channel soccer in hogging newspaper column inches is the lack of churn. All those lovely transfers on which to endlessly speculate and pontificate upon. And if there aren’t any transfers, you just make them up. It’s not as if anyone will check today’s fish & chip wrapping to find out what you said yesterday.
With that in mind, pronouncements on the certainty of Michael Ryan being appointed as the next Waterford manager should be treated with caution. If nothing else, the article in the link mentions that he will the first Waterford-born manager of the county since ‘Jim Mansfield’. Good to see NAMA bailing out one of our own. The story is speculative by nature, but there is some thought behind it, i.e he’s the last man standing. To avoid a long paragraph filled with commas, let’s look at the alleged candidates in list form:
- Jason Ryan: the man to whose mast I had so brazenly nailed my colours is staying with the Yellabellies.
- John Allen: Limerick-bound. I can’t say I’ll be lamenting missing out on him. His articles in the Irish Times over the years showed a man who fancied himself as a latter-day Myles na Gopaleen – NB this is not a compliment, Myles was meant to be a clown – and his All-Ireland success was a legacy from Donal O’Grady. Speaking of whom . . .
- Donal O’Grady: not interested in anything by the looks of it. A pity. Not only did he turn Limerick around, people forget the mess Cork were in when he took over – crushed by Galway in 2002, under O’Grady they’d be Munster champions in 2003 and All-Ireland champions in 2004. He’s clearly not a man given to Brian Cody-style empire building, so he might be available again in another five years.
- Kevin Ryan: not interesting the selection committee. This is a weird one. Why should Kevin Ryan not applying for the job or being nominated rule him out, while Jason Ryan neither applying or being nominated leads to him being so surreptitiously courted?
So unless a left-field candidate like James O’Connor emerges, that leaves Michael Ryan. What to make of him? He has experience of winning All-Irelands with the Waterford ladies footballers, and his hurling credentials are formidable with De La Salle (an obvious weakness for Jason Ryan). And yes, being from Waterford is a positive thing. It’s not that external candidates offend against our sense of Waterfordness or that I think a local will be able to tap into some hitherto undiscovered pool of passion. But it’ll be good that we feel confident enough in our own structures that we don’t need to look outside for someone who can look past our parish pump politics in putting together the county panel (see: Boggus Gaagaa).
Still, there’s going to be a last-chicken-in-the-shop feel to the appointment of Michael Ryan. Steve McClaren never recovered from the ridicule heaped upon his head as being ‘Second Choice-Steve’ after the English FA finally accepted that Brian Clough was in no position to take the job. It shouldn’t be so blatant with Ryan, but the contrast with how unexciting an appointment it will be in comparison to Jason Ryan (just saying) will be obvious. With the best will in the world, it’s not a dynamic appointment. And surely more-of-the-same isn’t going to cut it.